We take afternoon refreshment in the tea rooms at Moreton. Scones and cakes are not involved. He doesn’t want any and I am too fat; although I would’ve been sufficiently polite to join him had he shown an interest in patisserie. Now, I have to be gracious enough to hide the fact that I’m secretly sulking about the lack of sugar and cream. Instead, we discuss the contraption on which the delicious, but-never-to-be-consumed enticements are displayed. It’s a strange affair – four large wheels, an enormous length of wood, unexplained handles and so on.
I ask the waitress, ‘is that…?’ Before I get any further, comes the response, ‘yes, that is Lawrence of Arabia’s funeral bier’. Well, of course, that was just what I was about to ask. Not. And we two, with our open (but empty) mouths, are silenced.
The quiet American is finally in Dorset. It’s difficult to believe. It began with an intrusion into an office in Penryn, recommenced via hat boxes in Galway, continued along the dismal stones of Aran and was finalised in the Moroccan darkness of Exeter. Frankly, I never thought he’d arrive. You know how it goes – ‘you must come and see me when…’
What a time of it we had. I made a coastal plan only to be thwarted by a plethora of ecclesiastical architecture. I should’ve known better: because of him, I’d unexpectedly visited and written about one cathedral in Galway and spent my post-meze Exeter lunch in yet another. In truth, he has a way about himself: he picks a place or person about which one discovers elements of vital knowledge having previously held no particular interest. We call this ‘teaching & learning’.
I like to think I got my own back for the uneaten cake: the desired-to-be-seen geological strata of Lulworth’s environs were superseded and surpassed by the far more gratifying delights of Monkey World. And when I suggest we eat our cheese rolls on the station, it is because, in doing so, he will step into the world of Enid Blyton. It’s good to experience a little diversity.